Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Width of the World

The Width of the World

David Baldacci
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Scholastic Press, 2017   ISBN: 978-0545831963

Vega Jane has been faced by one challenge after another for months. She ran away from the only home she ever knew. Then she fought her way across the Quag to find her family who disappeared, and to find out more about herself and her family story. During her journey she learned that she comes from a long line of skilled magic workers, and she picked up companions along the way to help her in her quest.

Now Vega has arrived at her destination, in a land on the other side of the Quag. She and her companions, Delph and Petra, are nearly killed at the moment of their arrival when a motorized vehicle almost runs them over. The place they are in, a town called True, is nothing like Wormwood – where Vega and Delph grew up. Nor is it like the Quag, where Petra has spent her entire life. In True the streets are wide and clean, the buildings are fine, and the people, even the working class folks, seem to be uncommonly happy.

The travelers barely have time to figure out anything before Maladons, their enemies, attack. Long ago the Maladons waged war on a people, crushing a whole society and forcing some of their number to flee. Vega’s ancestors were some of the survivors of that exodus. They formed a community in Wormwood and created the Quag to keep the Maladrons out, and the people of Wormwood in.

Vega cannot understand how the Maladrons found them so soon until she realizes that the mark on her hand is acting as a beacon. When she places her magical glove on the hand the brand no longer attracts the Maladron’s unwanted attentions.

It isn’t long before Vega and her companions find out that the new land they are in is a terrible place, though it looks so wonderful. The non Maladron rural inhabitants of the land are being enslaved; they are being subjected to brainwashing on a large scale so that they are pliant and submissive. Vega, Delph, and Petra get onto a train to try to find out more about where the Maladrons are getting the people that they enslave, and they are almost caught by their incredibly powerful foes. The trio barely manage to escape with their lives by flying away.
They end up in a clearing in a wood, dragged there by Vega’s wand. In the clearing there is a house. The travelers enter the house and for the first time in a while they feel safe because the Maladrons apparently cannot see nor sense the house’s presence at all. The house is cared for, and yet it appears to be unoccupied. What is even stranger is that pictures of Delph and Vega’s ancestors are on the walls.

That night a very strange character turns up. It is an animated suit of armor and apparently it served Vega’s ancestors for a long time. Her ancestral home is hers to live in; in it she will be safe, she will want for nothing, and she will have a whole passel of unusual servants to take care of her. How wonderful it would be to have a life of leisure and ease, and yet… And yet Vega cannot rest knowing that countless people are suffering at the hands of the Maladrons.

It is decided that the travelers will use the house as a home base and venture out from it to gather information about their enemies. Then, when the time is right, they can come up with a plan. Vega sets out on her first sortie alone and what she discovers rocks her to her core. The urgency to fight back against the Maladrons becomes more acute due to the knowledge that she now has.

This wonderful third novel in the Vega Jane series will give readers a thrilling, action-packed bookish ride. You never quite know what is going to happen next, and as the layers of mystery are peeled away, the truths that are revealed are both shocking and fascinating.